Maine Beer Playing Not-So-Hard to Get
At Maine’s locally owned craft beverage retail stores, choices of quality fresh beers, local wines and specialty spirits and ciders are staggering. There has never been a better time to take advantage of the evolving landscape to find those “White Whales” of popular cans or bottles you have been chasing from Maine as well as out of state.
Here is a just a sample of recent popular out-of-state arrivals appearing in craft beverage stores around Maine:
• Other Half – Brooklyn, NY
• Dancing Gnome – Pittsburgh, PA
• Equilibrium – Middletown, NY
• Finback – Queens, NYC
• Aslin – Alexandria & Herndon, VA
On top of that, limited Maine beer releases typically picked up at breweries, (if they are not sold out) such as Saco River Brewing’s Ancient Galaxies, are showing up on the shelves of local craft beer and beverage stores. We interviewed several owners and managers of craft beverage stores around Maine, and one distributor, to learn about their unique perspectives on this trend with our readership.
“With COVID-19 changing all of our lives in countless ways, it is not surprising that it has also affected the craft beer industry,” said Dave Makson, manager of Damon’s Beverage & Redemption with five stores in Central Maine. “From aluminum shortages to breweries and tap rooms being limited or closed altogether, the landscape of our industry moves almost daily. That being said, one positive aspect is that customers are able to find a rare variety of products in their local Damon’s that they have never seen before, and may never see again.”
“Perhaps the only thing we can trust in and count on, nowadays, is that the craft beer industry has, and will continue, to put out great beers,” said Michael Moody, beer manager of JD’S Package Store, East Waterboro, ME. “And not only are we in this together, but most importantly—united we stand, divided we fall—so stand together and shop locally.”
“We have found that with the pandemic, craft beer drinkers have changed how they shop,” said Jason Perkins, owner of Perk’s Beer & Beverage Scarborough, ME. “Social media is a powerful tool, now more than ever,” he continued. “Our customers watch our Instagram closely for all the latest arrivals. Along with in-store purchases, our customers can shop on our website, for curbside or delivery. It’s important to provide as many shopping options as possible.”
“People are having more fun choosing beer because there are so many great choices out there,” said Amy Gates, owner of Tully’s Beer & Wine Wells, ME. “Since all our beers are available as singles, people have a chance to sample a greater variety,” she said. “Two weeks ago, we put in 20 new beers on our shelves and it’s off-season, which has never happened before.”
“This is a huge benefit for craft beer consumers,” echoed Tim Wissemann, owner of Mariner Beverages, Portland, ME. “It’s also beneficial to breweries that see an immediate return on their investment to getting their product out in new markets, but who weren’t sure how sustainable it was for the industry in the long term.”
Maine’s craft beverage retailers are in a great position to build relationships with customers by answering questions and giving recommendations based on each customer’s tasting experience. Each interaction along the consumer’s journey helps to build knowledge and trust, which keeps them coming back. It’s clear that this trend is sticking around and although sustainability may be a long-term question, shopping locally is helping our economy right now.